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Full text of "History And Human Relation"

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individual people as mere limbs of that body. They
become submerged altogether if the State is regarded as
the ethical end, and actual living people are construed as
merely the means to an end. The principles imply that
the biography of the worst of murderers could con-
ceivably be written in such a way that he would be what
in a technical sense we call the " hero " of the story, so
that our pity and sympathy would be around him as we
followed him up from childhood. By the same argu-
ment what we should desire even in the case of a man
like Hitler is not a mere angry denunciation. What
would prove of incomparable value, if it were possible,
would be an intimate account of him by a person who
did not hate him too much—an account which would
enable us to see how a lump of human nature (how a boy
playing in a field) could ever have come to be like that.
Best of all for the good of our souls would be an account
such as would be written by a mother who was com-
pelled to watch helplessly through the years while this
child of hers took to terrible ways. But if it is objected
that all this implies too delicate a regard for the effect
of conditions on the development of human beings—if
it is asserted that it seems to transform men into mere
puppets, mere victims of circumstance—a counter-thesis
must be stated in terms so uncompromising as to leave
no doubt of a man's ultimate responsibility. It must be
asserted that neither the outcasts nor the pillars of
respectability can in reality escape judgment if judgment
is going to be pressed for. Indeed, if we are writing
the life of a person whom we think the best of human
beings, we may make him the " hero " of the story,